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Curved Air - Air Cut CD (album) cover


Curved Air


Eclectic Prog

3.69 | 189 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars Basically, everyone from Curved Air's original line-up, save the lovely Sonja, had left by the time of this recording. Enter Eddie Jobson and Kirby Gregory into the Air line-up, two uber- talented, hotshot teenage virtuosos who play their instruments with a great unbridled youthful flair not present on some of their previous albums. 17-year old Jobson, in particular, was like the Mozart of prog rock, penning a whole 10-minute progressive rock symphony entitled "Metamorphosis", where he emulates the keyboarding chops of everybody from Rick Wakemen, to Pete Bardens, to general classical composers. It's quite a feat to write something of this caliber at such an age and despite the fact that it hardly has anything original going for it, (especially if one has heard any contemporary albums by Camel; I mentioned Mr. Bardens for a reason y'know) it's definitely a minor masterpiece in the Prog Hierarchy.

The rest of the album is handled with an approach that only a bunch of young, budding virtuosos would ever attempt. Virtually, they have a desire to try out every workable genre of music that pops into their heads. "The Purple Speed Queen" for instance, could be mistaken for a Rush rocker. Except imagine a catchier, more inventive Rush composition with superior synth and guitar solos and screechy, high pitched vocals that actually sound attractive and cool. In contrast, the Kirby Gregory penned rocker, "U.H.F." has a hard rocking riff that sounds like an outtake from Led Zeppelin II but with seductive Kristina vocals and a nice relaxing grand piano and mellotron filled mid-section. "Armin" is staggeringly brilliant, Middle Eastern influenced instrumental that showcases some great interplay between the bass, violin and guitar with each instrument laying down the same haunting theme at different points in the song.

Speaking of Ms. Kristina, I can't really say I'm a big aficionado of the two compositions she wrote for "Air Cut", however, which mainly try to get by on her outstanding vocal charms alone. The lush, celtic ballad thing, "Elfin Boy" is probably a big wet dream for those with a hobbit fetish but I can't say I'm partial to it as it has absolutely no melody or substance at all. The dark, ballad/rocker hybrid, "Easy", on the other hand, despite being a little bereft of hooks, really grew on me after a while. Sonja's powerfully sensual and soulful vocals can really bowl one over if one will let them and Gregory rips out an emotional guitar for some compensation too.

We also have the infamous Mike Wedgewood, of Caravan er? fame pushing the album's diversity even further for better or for worse. He writes a silly countrified "rock n' roll" song, "Two-Three-Two" and a goofy stab at vaudeville called "World". Both are certainly dumb and rather out-of-place for Curved Air but I find both decent, lighthearted fun with a few redeeming factors like suberb instrumentation and great vocals. (Wedgewood sings on "Two-Three-Two" and I find his choirboy voice rather pleasant and tolerable.)

"Air Cut" is an album that showcases all of the qualities of an adolescent creation. It's occasionally sloppy, unoriginal, dopey, and chest puffingly arrogant but in return displays unbelievably great musicianship and packs a youthful exuberance to match it. The best part is that no two compositions on this album sound alike and there's never a dull moment with this added element of diversity. Let's give three cheers for progressive eclecticism!

Grade: B

LionRocker | 3/5 |


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